More testing

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The more I work on this particular time trail, the more I seem to be absorbed in the complexity of generating a ‘story’, which is also a ‘history’ (or one possible history), that is not narrated chronologically but rather as a set of spatial encounters with absent artefacts or places. Playwright Bertold Brecht’s theory of Verfremdung, or distancing, postulates the advantages of creating different perspectives over familiar settings or materials. Here too it is not only the story we try to tell, or the environment the user is immersed in when following our time trails, but rather their synthesis, which will be experienced very subjectively, that I will be focussing on more intensively over the next few weeks.

At a personal level, I have lived in Exeter for nearly 10 years now, and have been for the first time to St James just a few months ago. Then, the place had no history for me. Now, having conducted some intensive research on the club and trust, and having met some of the people who work there, I feel a certain familiarity. Sites have become associated with people, and the latter with their histories, often intertwined with the broader ‘History’ of Exeter.

I am therefore very pleased to say that I will now also be involved in two further projects that will culminate in 2014 to mark the anniversary of Exeter’s historic match against Brazil. The first one is the documentation of Nick Stimson’s play which will be shown at the Northcott Theatre next year. The second, is a collaboration with the Trust and 1010 Media over the development of a website to accompany an exhibition curated by Kiera Gould whose blog you should check out as it documents her curatorial thinking process.

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In the meantime, we are still testing. Will, Andy and I spent a few hours simultaneously testing the geocoding (yet again) and the app’s functionalities. In terms of geocoding, it was a cloudy day (not just metaphorically). This means the satellites struggled to locate us and were not always able to tell apart locations which were very close to each other. To deal with this, we decided to move some of the locations (i.e. their geocoding) so that the different locations at the Park would not overlap. The ticket booth, for example, is now geocoded to the car park, so it wouldn’t interfere with the location for Stansfield’s memorial.

While we were testing the geocoding, we were also testing the app itself. In particular, we were wondering whether the trail should be visualised by a line or whether our presence should just be marked by the blue dot. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but in the end we decided not to visualise the actual line. As we kept on testing different possibilities of visualising the trail, Andy was developing, literally, on the go. In the picture below I captured the thrilling moment when he had to reconfigure his server. You can see him sitting on the pavement just in front of the ticket booth, with his computer, i-pad and i-phone, writing code…

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About Gabriella Giannachi

Gabriella Giannachi is Professor in Performance and New Media, and Director of the Centre for Intermedia at the University of Exeter, which promotes advanced interdisciplinary research in performance and the arts through collaborations between artists, academics and scientists from a range of disciplines. Her most recent and forthcoming book publications include: Virtual Theatres: an Introduction (Routledge: 2004); Performing Nature: Explorations in Ecology and the Arts, ed. with Nigel Stewart (Peter Lang: 2005); The Politics of New Media Theatre (Routledge: 2007); Performing Presence: Between the Live and the Simulated, co-authored with Nick Kaye (MUP: 2011), nominated in Theatre Library Association 44th Annual Book Awards (2012); Archaeologies of Presence, co-edited with Nick Kaye and Michael Shanks (Routledge: 2012); Performing Mixed Reality, co-authored with Steve Benford (MITP: 2011) and Archive Everything (MITP, forthcoming). She has published articles in Contemporary Theatre Review, Leonardo, Performance Research, Digital Creativity, TDR and PAJ, and developed conference papers for IVA 2009, 9th International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, CHI 2008, CHI 2009 (best paper award), CHI 2012 (best paper award) and CHI 2013 (best paper award). She is an investigator in the RCUK funded Horizon Digital Economy Research Hub (2009-2014) and is collaborating with Tate and RAMM on a number of projects. She has a BA from Turin University and a PhD from Cambridge University, UK.
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